• Jessica Pecush

The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet

This intriguing piece of literature, authored by Nina Teicholz, aims to send the message that “our modern, advanced knowledge is strictly based in science, endorsed and promoted by the most prestigious and influential institutions and government agencies in the world”.[i] As such, “the idea that fat and saturated fat are unhealthy has been ingrained in our national conversation”[ii] for a long period of time.

I instantly connected to this literature, as it investigated the contradictions and various dietary messages that have transpired over time, particularly in terms of whether the saturated fats within animal foods are healthy or unhealthy.

As a consumer of the food industry, it is a constant challenge and state of confusion to know what to buy and what to boycott. So many “trends” seem to come and go. As a result, consumers in general just get to a point of not knowing where to go next, and are just desperate for the “right” information. Unfortunately, over time, research has become more political than scientific in nature.[iii]

Here’s an example: “Nutritional experts have long reasoned that low-fat diets enable weight loss due to restricted calorie content (if we eat fat, we will be fat); including the fact that saturated fat consumption causes heart disease”.[iv] The consequence to that approach is that when individuals were then seeking out “low-fat” foods to reduce calories, but such foods contain more chemical ingredients to maintain a similar and pleasing flavour to the full-fat version. This results in increasing sugar/salt levels to compensate, and increased consumption of other macronutrients instead (i.e. carbohydrates). The irony is that none of these behaviours yield desirable results.

Governments are “unable to easily change direction”, therefore consumers are often misled and misinformed. “It is very possible that the course of nutrition advice over the past 60 years has taken an unparalleled toll on human history; the loss of a historical perspective about our food traditions is perhaps why our nutrition policy has gone so far astray”.[v]

*Photo Credit: www.thebigfatsurprise.com


[i]-[iv] Teicholz, N. (2014). The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks.


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